Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

National Martini Day: A Brief Manifesto

Yesterday, June 19, was National Martini Day.  I became unexpectedly busy and missed posting about it. An Epic gaffe, I know.

I for one am quite tired of bars claiming that anything in a Martini glass is a Martini.  I am similarly tired of people who are supposed to be bartenders asking me if I want Vermouth in my Martini or, worse, simply giving me a glass of shaken clear alcohol in a Martini glass.  Even worse, a bartender who, without asking me, presents a Martini glass full of cold clear alcohol with olive juice in it ["dirty"] commits an abomination that will have me abandon the bar for good.

A dry Martini, by The Savoy Cocktail Book [1930], is made with two parts Gin and one part dry Vermouth.  The Savoy does have five variations on the drink, however, and acknowledges use of Vodka as well. The Esquire Drink Book [1956] also has five recipes but omits reference to Vodka.

Thus, Vodka or Gin without any Vermouth in it is a glass of Vodka or Gin, not a Martini. Various concoctions of Vodka or whatever and chocolate syrup, orange rind, eucalyptus leaves, etc., may be fine cocktails [although I probably would not drink them] but to call them "Martinis" is simply wrong. One might as well call a steak a cupcake because they both come on a plate. The great New Orleans food expert Tom Fitzmorris made this point strongly in a recent blog post and he inspired this manifesto.  Even Fleming knew this point. When he invented the venerable Vesper Cocktail he did not call it a "Vesper Martini".  And with good reason.

In the event, however, my love of Ian Fleming and James Bond drew me away from the straight and narrow path and I drank "Vodka Martinis" for years although I took a lot less Vermouth in them than called for by the classical recipe.  In fact I drank Vodka "Martinis" for many years. Lately, however, I tried a "by-the-book" Gin Martini and was actually surprised at how fine a cocktail it is. Back from my wayward habits, a Gin man I will remain. If I want a glass of cold Vodka, I'll order it on the rocks.      

Happy Martini Day 2014!!  Cheers.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fuzzy Photos From Great Bars, Holiday Edition

Johnny's Hideaway, Orlando, Florida. A swanky joint, no doubt. I had Tanzanian shrimp baked like lobster tails that were perhaps the best seafood dish I've ever had.

Cool dining room sort of old Florida and Trader Vic combined. Lots of booths. I like that.  Also, Johnny's version of Baked Alaska, "Baked Florida".....

Instead of ice cream inside like an Alaska, there is a layer of Orange flavored flourless cake...

Stunning. A tropical triumph.  Johnny's Hideaway receives the Epic highest recommendation!!

On Holiday

Day seven of the best kind of holiday. Doing absolutely nothing. I should insure these gams for a million...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Icons: Vince

Sitting in his den late at night. Alone with a letter open on his desk. He couldn't believe they did not want him. He had given the program everything he had. Every day. Only to be passed over for the top job.  His eyes looked at a phone number scribbled on a piece of note paper under the engraved New York Giants logo. Why not return the call?

That telephone call, and the crushing occupational defeat which preceded it, led to what David Maraniss perfectly described as "his last chance to be something more than a face in the crowd".  Not at all what he had dreamed of . What he had worked so hard for. But it was better than nothing. At least he would be in charge. Coaching. In some little town on the edge of the pro football universe. A snowy place called Green Bay.

When he got there he said that his plan for the long-stumbling team was perfection.  Since he and his team were all humans, however, perfection was not possible.  So, by striving endlessly for impossible perfection, they would achieve the next best thing. Excellence. He would not accept anything less.  He never did.

Then, as now, the smallest franchise town in the National Football League, Green Bay, Wisconsin was to be the beneficiary of five NFL championship trophies and two Super Bowl trophies while he was there.  It would not have happened without him. There probably would not even be a team there now if it weren't for him. He gave all of the little boys like me, up in the woods and the snow banks, a lot of things.  Something to cheer for.  The belief that, against towering odds, desire, ferocity, hard work and love could actually win the day.  The belief that, in the title words of Maraniss' biography, "pride still mattered".  Faded notions now.  Like being early, not just on time. At Lambeau Field, they still have the non-game clock set ten minutes fast.  His sort of  time, always early for everything.

Vince Lombardi would be 100 today.  An awful lot of us still think of him an awful lot. Because pride still matters.

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Best Sunglasses EVER

As I left for a tropical vacation, I had two shopping goals in mind. First, a great new pair of sunglasses. Four minutes into my first shopping stop of the trip I pounced on these tremendous Ray-Bans. Two-tone baby. Black and Tan. Just like one of my favorite pub orders.  Mission number one accomplished!!  Now for that long sleeve, black Guayabera shirt I've been wanting...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Breakfast Of Champions

After what could only be described as a hefty night in Tampa, I was required by tedious business to arise early this morning. The only remedy was breakfast at the Columbia at Tampa airport. My second favorite airport restaurant ever. Eggs Malguena. A masterpiece since the 1920's.  Poached eggs. Red gravy. Onions and peppers. Pork. Peas. Cuban toast. The only thing required was a bottomless mug of Cuban coffee....

Restored, I was set to take on the day.  Havana style.